All Indigenous Australia needs is … another Intervention?

The Opposition leader Tony Abbott has apparently written to the Prime Minister calling for ‘a new intervention to prevent violence in Northern Territory towns, especially Alice Springs.’ Abbott is arguing that parts of the Northern Territory have taken on the characteristics of a “failed state” and that the Federal government should act accordingly.

“What I am proposing effectively is a new intervention in Alice and the other major towns of the Territory like Katherine and Tennant Creek.”

In his letter, he says there needs to be more police, more teachers and insistence on work-for-the-dole and alcohol-management measures.

“I understand that Alice currently has about 200 police. Now it is a town of about 30,000 people with very significant social problems,” he said. ¹

For Indigenous communities of the Territory to be accused of acting or functioning as “failed states” – when previous and current Federal Governments have, and continue to interrupt systematically dismantle and forcibly usurp local authority structures  – is a complete joke. How can one usurp the authority of local organisations and the political structures of entire communities and then accuse those very same organisations, those very same communities of functioning like ‘failed states’ (to justify further interventions no less)? The Federal Government even over-rode the authority of the State Government in order to roll-out measures associated with the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention in 2007 (and since).

This is all yet another case of the Government accusing Indigenous communities of things that they themselves have sought, or are seeking to bring about or instate, in order to justify doing more of the same. Indigenous communities have been asking for more resources, more teachers and more houses since the dawn of the Howard era – when the government started rolling them back. Not only have remote Indigenous Homeland Communities had their schools shut down, teachers recalled and health services curtailed by previous and current Governments – but they have scrapped CDEP (effectively “work for the dole”), as well. These are purposeful outcomes of previous and current Government policy – outcomes that previous and current Governments have sought to achieve. These outcomes along with innumerable others – abolishing the permit system, scrapping bi-lingual education, rolling-back Land Rights legislation (and Indigenous land tenure derived therefrom), quarantining welfare payments …. and I could go on.

As I suggested above, it’s another case of the Gov accusing Indigenous communities of things that they themselves are seeking to effect or instate. It is not so much ironic or uncanny as it is racist and insidious.


For more info on the NT Intervention check out:

For a general overview see the NT Intervention Wiki page, which has further links and reading:

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